Changes at Virgin Hyperloop, a company that has long been involved in the project aimed at innovating the transport sector with a system of magnetic levitation pods that travel inside vacuum tubes. The first novelty is decidedly unpleasant for workers forced to give up their job due to a decision that the top management defines. not foreseen and dictated by the need to meet business needs in a more flexible and cost-efficient way. We talk about 111 employees laid off, nearly half of the workforce.
The second change concerns a reassessment of business objectives: Virgin Hyperloop was born to provide a solution dedicated to passenger transport, and has achieved promising results starting with the first successful pod test with passengers on board in November 2020. Now the priority changes and concerns the transfer of goods. Shifting the goal from passengers to goods – explains a spokesperson for the company – is linked the problems of the global supply chain and all the changes related to Covid.
EXPLOITING THE LOGISTICS CRISIS IS NOT A BAD IDEA
To put it differently, VIrgin Hyperloop is trying to propose a transport system that in this historical moment could be more profitable compared to solutions dedicated to the transfer of passengers. The pandemic has indeed generated both a crisis of the components, is, in parallel, a crisis of logistics. There are not only fewer goods to transport, but also difficulties in making the movements.
Companies and large groups could choose Virgin Hyperloop’s super-fast transport system to transfer goods that today travel with difficulty. For now, rumors are reported by the Financial Times, but the Company is said to have entered into negotiations with at least fifteen potential customers interested in using the pods as cargo freighters. Focusing on goods would also facilitate the Company as regards compliance with the rules (think of the certifications, for example) which are more stringent in the case of passenger transport.
So that future in which the Hyperloop tunnels will rise all the way revolutionizing the public transport system, as shown in an official video, is moving away. The goal has not been completely shelved, but it is still further away than it was previously. In all this we must consider the climate created in the company last year with the decision of the co-founder of Virgin Hyperloop, Josh Giegel, to abandon the project – a move that has produced an exodus of employees and managers who are not very confident in the new management of the Company -, and now with the new wave of layoffs.